Steve Jobs once said:
“It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. I mean Picasso had a saying. He said, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ And we [at Apple] have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
While Jobs may have slightly misquoted Picasso to PBS’ “Triumph of the Nerds“ in 1996, his point was that the Macintosh was an iteration of previous computers and technology, rather than a completely new innovation.
That point resonates with least one fellow billionaire.
“[E]verything is a remix,” Cuban said, referring to the 2010 film by Kirby Ferguson that also features Jobs’ quote. “That’s what I learned early on in technology.”
“When I was first getting started, I told myself that there’s two people in the world when it came to technology: There’s the people who created it and there’s everybody else. I was with everybody else,” Cuban told Twitch co-founder Justin Kan on a recent episode of “The Quest” podcast.
“So, if I just put in the work, then I could get ahead of everybody else. I may not know as much as the creators, but if I dealt with the creators, then they could teach me.”
In fact, the ability to iterate on already available technology is what made Cuban devoted to life-long learning, something to which he now often attributes his success.
“As I started doing that more and more, reading manuals, reading books, whatever it took, you started to understand all the concepts. Then I taught myself how to program, basic languages, and then you understand the constructs of programming. Then, I got into networking and I understood networking. Every step along that, there’s commonalities all the way through,” Cuban told Kan.
After a few failed gigs after college, Cuban started his own computer systems company, MicroSolutions, which he sold to CompuServe for $6 million in 1990. Five years later, Cuban and a friend, Todd Wagner, started internet radio platform Broadcast.com, which was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion in stock. Since then, Cuban has invested in hundreds of successful companies.
And constantly learning still serves Cuban today. “Now, I know if I keep up with it, whether it’s artificial intelligence, blockchain, tokens, NFTs, whatever it is, there are common threads across all of those things that make it easier to understand if I just put in the time,” he says. “If I do some tutorials, if I mint something [like an NFT] and go through the entire process, I’m going to understand it.”
Then, there’s “the ‘Shark Tank’ side of me,” Cuban says, when he asks himself, how could this be a business? “And that’s when I start thinking in that direction.”
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”